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Old 11/04/2005, 09:59 PM   #1
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Msg FAQ: Troubleshooting Idle Problems

Rough/Surging/Fluctuating Idle

Please refer to the Bad Idle Troubleshooting guide at http://ef-honda.com/ben/Badidle.php Special thanks to Ben!


TB - Throttle Body
IM - Intake Manifold
IACV - Idle Air Control Valve (also called the Electronic Air Control Valve or EACV)
FITV - Fast Idle Thermo Valve
TPS - Throttle Position Sensor


1) Check your vacuum routing. On the underside of your hood there should be a vacuum diagram. If there isn't a diagram under there, there is one in a Helms, Chiltons, or Haynes manual for your car (you should have one of these anyway). Remember, ANY extra air will confuse the ECU. Check for cracked or bad vacuum hoses. If in doubt just replace the hose, they are cheap.

The PCV valve could also be the culprit. Take it out and examine it. If it is cracked it could be causing a vacuum leak. Replace the piece if you arent completely sure it is ok (the helms/chiltons/haynes manuals tell you how to check it).

2) Check to see that your throttle plate is closed all the way. Take your intake off at the TB and check to see that nothing is blocking the plate. If nothing is in the way and it isn't closed all the way, loosen your throttle cable.

3) Check to see if the nuts holding the TB and the IM on are tight. If they are loose, tighten them.

Check the Idle screw. Its on the top of the TB right next to the red vacuum line in the first picture. Its a flat-tip screw and most TB's have it epoxied over. If your screw is not epoxied over try adjusting it.

4) Bleed your coolant. Some air bubbles may throw the FITV off and keep the valve open.

5) Take the 3 10mm bolts out of the FITV (you don't have to take off the coolant lines). Then take off the 2 8mm bolts off the plate on the back of the FITV. Once the plate is off you will see a white plastic thing, screw that all the way in. This causes a TON of people's hunting idle problems (it's a source of a vacuum leak). Put the FITV back on and start the car up. If it still idles bad go on.

6) Clean the IACV screen(s).

7) Make sure your car is completely warmed up. With it running, take the intake off the TB. There are 2 holes right in front of the throttle plate, these are the holes that feed the IACV (top hole) and the FITV (bottom hole). With your finger, cover up the bottom hole (it should NOT be sucking if your car is warmed up). If the idle goes down the FITV is to blame, either get a new one or take it apart and screw the valve completely closed (I have only read of people doing this, so I don't know exactly how. Also, you will have to keep the engine speed up yourself when the car is cold).

Next cover both holes up with your fingers. The car should sputter and die (or almost die). If it does then the source of your crappy idle is the IACV. Replace it. If you want you can test the IACV. Shut the car off and put + battery voltage to the blk/yel terminal (on the valve) and momentarily touch ground to the blu/yel side. When doing this the valve should click, if it doesn't, replace it.

If, when covering both holes the car still has a high idle, you have a vacuum leak somewhere. Again check the IM and TB nuts. You can spray carb cleaner around those areas and if any gets sucked in (the engine will rev) you have found your leak. Another source of vacuum leaks are where the FITV and IACV connect to the IM. Either replace the gaskets or use silicone gasket sealant.

8) If nothing has worked you should test your TPS. Probe the middle wire on the TPS plug (with the key on but not running, and the plug still connected to the sensor) with the + probe on the volt meter, and the neg probe to ground. You should have .5v with a fully closed throttle plate and 4.8v with it wide open. If the TPS is off, replace it. My TPS was .425v to 4.55v and it idles fine now so I don't know how big the margin of error is. Also, it is pretty rare for these to go bad.

9) If, still, nothing has worked you might want to try a new ECU. This also is very unlikely, but worth a try.

10) If it still idles bad, go through the steps again.

Useful Links:

Fast Idle Thermo Valve (FITV) adjustment/removal/internals

Idle Air Control Valve (IACV) Removal/Cleaning Procedures

Leaks or No Leak?

To check for vacuum leaks or if your throttle body/intake manifold have any leaks, do the following:

1. Start up the car
2. Cover the throttle body with your palm; if the motor studders or about to shut off, you don't have a vacuum leak; if the motor does not hesitate, you have a vacuum leak somewhere, either on the vacuum hoses or on the gaskets.
3. If in doubt, spray some "carb cleaner" on vacuum hoses or gaskets slightly to reveal leaks. Your motor should have higher idle if the leaks suck in the "carb cleaner" substance.

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